Dr. Kalas’ Top Ten

Beloved past president of Asbury, Dr. J. Ellsworth Kalas’ legacy lives on in our hearts.  Let’s take a look at his top 10 favorite books and hymns and flashback to the 2008-09 Alumni Link!


1.  The Bible.

“I say this not because you expect me to, but because it’s true.  I first read the Bible in its entirety when I was 11 years old.  The Lord willing, I plan to do so again in 2009.”  

2.  A book of hymns (big!).

“I don’t know which one, but I’m grateful that I can recall hundreds of hymns that are no longer in any single hymnal.”

3.  The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

“I can open it (or Bartlett’s, for that matter) on any page and be fascinated, amused, moved and inspired.”

4.  Untermeyer:  Modern American Poetry and Modern British Poetry.

“This won’t give me earlier masters, like John Donne and Emily Dickinson, or someone as recent as Donald Hall, but its 1,200 pages will remind me of the days I was introduced to T. S. Eliot, Carl Sandburg, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Hardy – and many others I haven’t met yet.”

5.  A devotional book.

“I’m going to settle for my own book, The Grand Sweep, because its devotions lead one through the entire Bible.  I wrote it so long ago that it will be new to me.”

6.  A collection of essays.

“I’d like for it to be very eclectic, as long as it includes several by Joseph Epstein.  Essays stimulate one’s thinking.”

7.  Twenty Centuries of Great Preaching.

“I’m cheating on this one, because it’s 12 volumes.  Here, in any event, are sermons enough to nourish the soul for a very long time.”

8.  Biographies.

“The book above contains short bios of all the preachers whose sermons are included.  This also gives one a good trip through church history in particular and human history in general.”

9.  My high school annual.

“For purely sentimental reasons, to remind of the world from which I’ve come and of people I knew and loved long ago.”

10. A very large book of unlined paper.

“On which I can write all the insights that come to me from day to day.” 


No, Dr. Kalas did not keep his favorite hymns to only 10 but wanted to include all 15.  

1.  “A Mighty Fortress”

2.  “And Can It Be”

3.  “Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know”

4.  “Blessed Assurance”

5.  “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

6.  “God, Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

7.  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

8.  “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

9.  “It Is Well With My Soul”

10.  “Morning Has Broken”

11.  “O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done”

12.  “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”

13.  “The Old Account Was Settled”

14.  “We’re Marching to Zion”

15.  “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

When you think of your favorite books and hymns, what comes to mind?  Memories of soul nourishment?  Sights, smells, and emotions?  Just as Dr. Kalas was thankful for how these books and hymns shaped and formed him, we are also thankful for the way we have been formed through word and song.

4 responses to “Dr. Kalas’ Top Ten”

  1. Thank for bringing Dr. Kalas to my heart and mind today. He was giant of the faith and great encourager to me.

  2. John Kearns says:

    Thanks to whoever put together this little article. It brings back Ellsworth’s wit and wisdom, and brings a smile to my face.

  3. Isaiah Allen says:

    It was a privilege to be his student, but he didn’t make you feel that way. And, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross…

  4. James Mace says:

    O may we sing such songs in order to gain a world-overcoming faith, mature above all the praise-chorusing juveniles’ ken.

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